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Dublin Opinion >>
High Drama at the McBrearty/Anti-Corruption meeting in Dublin.
crime and justice |
Sunday November 20, 2005 06:47 by Brian
A short account of the meeting on Garda, legal and state corruption chaired by Frank McBrearty at the Mansion House Dublin 20 Nov 2005.
(My apologies in advance for any errors and omissions.)
Condemned "crime correspondents who try to brainwash people every week" with their hyping of gangland and other crimes. As he sees it they are just basically working for the garda press office. He also outlined that most of the posters they tried to put up to advertise the meeting were immediately pulled down by Dublin corporation. As well as this in the regular media there was an organised campaign to mislead people into thinking the meeting had been cancelled. He was pleased at the attendance therefore in the light of this campaign.
He started by relating a story about his long time friend Nicky Kelly. He said that as luck would have it during the 80s he was for a time political correspondent of the Sunday World and when invited to dinner with the then tanaiste Michael O'Leary he decided to challenge him on the question of Nicky Kelly. The only reply he got though was that the garda commissioner had assured him that Kelly was guilty and after all, as O'Leary explained, you "don't question the word of a guard". But as Eamonn sees it goes deeper than that. In practise "politicians are frightened of the guards because the guards know where the bodies are buried." As regards the anti-corruption campaign, he feels that political financial and garda corruption are all mixed up together and its no good tackling it via individual cases. For example if you look to tribunals or public inquiries to solve your problem don't forget that they are run by the same judiciary that many are accusing of being corrupt. He wants a much broader political campaign and in fact he called for a slate of candidates that could be endorsed by this movement in time for the next election. The candidates could still be members of other parties, just affiliated to this movement in some way.
Sean Crowe TD:
He explained that he comes from the real world and growing up in Dublin he knew the garda stations where you'd be routinely beaten up by the gardai even over small things like not having a lamp on a bicycle. But at the time "society said this didn't happen." Allegations were just dismissed claiming that "this was just the words of subversives or criminals. Many of the people who were beaten up in the garda stations ended up in institutions" and now we know what happened to them there. "If you want to see justice don't go to any of the courts in this country." He stated that when people take a case against the gardai it is routine for false charges to be served on the person making the claim and then they will offer to drop that charge if the claimant drops their (real) charge against the gardai. He himself was assaulted in a garda station by the heavy gang for putting up anti-EU posters. He personally experienced the physical and mental abuse that people suffer in garda stations. He stated that it was "not a handful of corrupt gardai" that was the problem rather it was "down to a police force with unimpeded power" but now there was "a few cracks in the wall" of this corruption in the justice system.
He is struck when he attends these meetings at the "vast number of people deeply hurt by agencies of the state....and the avalanche of allegations against the judiciary , the gardai etc.." His group, the Centre for Public Inquiry, is actually inundated with so many cases that he now realises that they simply don't have the resources to deal with them. Instead of talking further about the "so called Irish justice system" he outlined his history of digging up corruption in the planning system and highlighted the story of Tom Gilmartin. Gilmartin has alledged that his life was ruined by a combination of some powerful Irish businessmen, Ireland's largest bank, the UK inland revenue and, Connolly pointed out, there are even allegations about two taoisigh and "a [sic!] serving taoiseach".
Aisling Reidy Irish Council for Civil Liberties:
She has highlighted the fact that over the course of the life of the ICCL the gardai and state agencies are actually getting more and more draconian powers despite all the evidence that has emerged since the Sallins case of the gardai abusing those powers. This she feels is because the majority of people still need to be persuaded that this abuse of power is the main problem. They in fact are heavily influenced by the media highlighting of things like gang warfare, which is what happens when the "government constantly plays the politics of fear". So to address this she feels its very important for people to build as broad an alliance as possible.
He "bears witness to torture....conspiracy to kidnap"...that was conducted in this state. He traces the origin of the heavy gang to Ned Garvey who was later discovered to have worked for British Intelligence. Garvey apparently recruited that group as a "systematic torture system". He was obviously arrested, on false charges, as part of a roundup of 40 people taken into custody as part of the Sallins Train robbery saga. Over 10 of those arrested were subsequently tortured and Osgur described the screams that he heard in the Bridewell before his turn came to be tortured. During his ordeal he contemplated hanging himself and eventually was driven to sign a false statement. This was done during the FG-Lab coalition and when they were succeeded by the incoming FF govt. Garvey was sacked but all the rest of the gardai involved were promoted by that govt. In any case the subsequent legal proceedings went on for a long time during which he and his family were constantly harassed and received intimidating phonecalls etc. He also found himself black listed so he couldn't get normal employment. The late Mary Reid was involved in trying to highlight his case incidentally and he would like to join with her family in pressing for a proper investigation into her death in Donegal. Eventually he had to settle out of court under threat of financial ruin. So the outcome in fact was that tax payers money was used to just cover it up, he never really got justice, the gardai were never held accountable for what they did to him and so he feels that history is repeating itself with all these new cases. It was inevitable it would only get worse if no justice was done then and "that is the relevance of the past to the present"."Deaths in custody have increased" and the situation has only continued to deteriorate. He feels "the whole barrel" of the gardai is rotten not just a few bad apples. On an ominous note he found out in the course of the documentary he narrated (on TG4) that the Department of Justice have "active files on 1 in 5 adult males" in this state.
Nicky Kelly (of the famous miscarriage of justice etc):
He feels there are "thousands and thousands of people.. citizens of this country..who get no redress [only a] stone wall" when they seek justice. He has been "inundated by ordinary people" looking for his help in seeking justice. Unfortunately he feels that most of the politicians are looking for an easy life and "don't really care" about these cases. In fact he is very pessimistic about most of these cases ever getting justice in Ireland. He thinks they could only hope to get "justice under their [dept and minister of justice etc] conditions" which is not real justice at all. He doesn't think contacting councillors or TD's does much good. In fact, in his experience, you will "never ever get your issue dealt with" you will only find yourself in a "correspondence course". In a clearly very sincere and blunt speech he simply said "look at the nature of our country and people at the moment". Most of the politicians in Leinster House just perceive the people at this meeting as "cranks" and clearly it is going to be a long struggle if people hope to get justice.
Joe Higgins TD:
Like so many indigent workers he finds himself on a payment plan as he tries to pay back his debts to Fingal Co. Council. He owes them 15,000 pounds for 5 hours work put in by a barrister employed by the council when they successfully took legal action against him over the bin tax protests for which he was jailed. He made the point that there are large numbers of people out there that are completely unable to pay sums like that and that this makes constitutional rights a bit of a dead letter for a large swathe of the Irish population. There is also in practice no way that a TD can hold judges to account, since any criticism at all of judges are ruled out of order by the Cahoirleach in the Dail.
Dan Boyle TD:
He talked about the difficulties of holding the system to account and he offered his services to help out a new independent movement that would challenge the corruption.
A former inter county ladies GAA player.:
She was sexually assaulted by a garda who was working as a coach of the local Ladies GAA club. She made a complaint to the Garda Complaints Board but that got nowhere until another person made a similar complaint against the same person. This time the garda in question was tipped off and intimidated the potential witnesses and the victim. Now she finds herself constantly harassed, intimidated and ostracised in her local community while the garda has risen in the ranks of the GAA. It is, she feels, a complete and blatant coverup by gardai and the Ladies GAA.
He was beaten unconscious by the gardai and it was his efforts to get justice over that which has lead to him being harassed by them."Taken into custody several times but never found guilty of anything." Nobody would help...solicitors ..politicians...even doctors and unfortunately he has been left mentally and physically damaged. As far as he is concerned 90% of the gardai and politicians are "all evil".
Eugene Bradley from Armagh:
He has been living a life these last few years like a "James Bond movie". It has arisen from the actions of a corrupt solicitor who seems to be able to marshal the forces of the PSNI against him. He gave just one example of the way in which his phone is constantly cut off. As regards the anti-corruption campaign his message was "unite unite" and don't fall out with one another whatever happens. Meanwhile "he is working 24/7 to stay alive." He wished to point out to everybody at the meeting that he is clearly in good health (for the obvious reason that if he should not be alive in the near future that people would be skeptical of the explanation given).
Speaking on behalf of a relative who was raped. His nephew and this relative get nothing but a litany of obscene verbal abuse from the gardai in Kilkenny when they try to get it investigated.
The mother of 8 children (and shows it in her unflappability and determination!). She has been 13 years trying to get justice over a property dispute in Mallow. She is a professional florist and with her husband purchased a property in Mallow for, I think , 117,000 pounds in c.1990. She purchased the property with the help of a family solicitor. What she didn't realise was that this solicitor had been secretary of the company that owned the property before her. In any case various problems started to arise two years into paying off the loan they took out to purchase the property. The upshot is that she was deprived of the property for non payment of the loan despite the fact that at the time that happened the property was worth many times what was outstanding on the loan. This story descended into a long argument between a pressed-for-time Frank McBrearty and-a-determined-to-have-her-say Mrs Twomey.
On behalf of the late John Maloney junior.:
A friend of this person's family outlined his case. He had been arrested as part of a drugs search and taken to Rathfarnham garda station, I believe. No drugs were found but he was reported to have been held on an existing warrant over car insurance. He was found in a coma outside but near the garda station the next day and died 13 days later in hospital. The State pathologist stated that it was a drugs overdose but the hospital test done on him showed only minute traces of cocaine. The family feel that the statements given by the gardai to the inquest are very "choreographed" but they have run out of options in trying to get justice because don't have enough money to take any legal action. Meanwhile they now face "cruel vicious and organised harassment" from the gardai in Crumlin. A relative had an arm broken over this and their house is raided regularly including twice this week as part of the so called crack down on gangs. Since the family have no hope of getting justice in the Irish courts, particularly because of the cost, this friend made the point that maybe the TD's on the panel might like to conduct some kind of inquiry into it so that somehow the family can get their case heard.
Larry Wheelock (brother of Terence):
He outlined how the cell where his brother was alleged to have committed 'suicide' was renovated immediately after the incident effectively ruining it as a potential crime scene from the point of view of gathering evidence. He also stated that custody records have been doctored. Meanwhile (yet again) this family are also facing intimidation by the gardai.
Joe Mooney (on behalf of the Mulhall family of Dublin city):
Jimmy and the rest of this family were prominent anti-drugs campaigners and for this reason they have faced 10 years of constant harassment from the gardai. They were constantly stopped, strip searched etc (to look for drugs on a family that was campaigning against them). Jimmy was beaten up in garda stations ("unrecognisable when he came out") and incredibly his 10 year old son Wayne was stopped and searched. Wayne has now had non stop harassment as well since this time, for example he was beaten up at one point by the gardai repetitively banging a car door against him. The family are at their wits end. All the local politicians know all about this harassment but still it doesn't stop and this family know of this kind of thing happening to other families all over the city.
Representing her husband who has been wrongfully imprisoned for 5 years now. (I think this is from Kilkenny.)
Dan McCaffrey from Omagh:
Involves fraud , blackmail and extortion in the Republic from 1981. Couldn't even get a solicitor to take his case despite huge efforts to get one. Amazingly, and tellingly, the only politician who has tried to help this proud Irish Republican is one Dr.Ian Paisley ! He was serious and will be relaying the content of the meeting back to the Dr and his son.
Padraig O'Reilly the psychiatric nurse from Mayo.:
(A sentence has been removed here at the request of the author. It was in reference to a Coronors court. This statement was not made by the person at the meeting to the whole audience using the microphone. In fact the author would like to apologise for the impression that it was and to the Coronors court if this is in fact an inaccurate reference. Nocorrespondence has been received by him or by indymedia in reference to this from the court. -AN EDITOR)
He has been trying for many years to highlight what was done to a psychiatric patient who died while in garda custody. He elaborated on the sustained campaign of slander waged against him since he started making these complaints. Posters were put up, forged documents on garda notepaper were distributed in the locality in a slander campaign very similar to that which hit the McBreartys and involved the usual Special Branch Detectives. Because of this campaign and black listing he, and his family, has been 13 years without a steady wage which as you appreciate must make it very difficult to stay the legal course that is unfolding.
Peter Preston from Dublin:
He explained that it was his idea to invite Joe Costello TD to the meeting and the reason he wanted to do this was to challenge him face to face with certain allegations.... At which point he was cut off by Frank McBrearty who explained that Joe Costello was a friend of his who had always helped him and his family and he would not tolerate allegations like that being aired at the meeting. After much argument Peter resumed his story on the basis that he would relate the facts about his daughter only. So he stated that his daughter had been assaulted with a broken glass in a drinking club and he had established proof of a conspiracy to cover it up involving gardai and judges and for which he had even been on hunger strike outside the dail. At which point he outlined his allegations against Costello. Basically he said that he had given important documents (transcripts of a court case) on his case to Costello and when he got them back some were missing and some changed....whereupon...
Joe Costello TD:
....the Labour spokesman on Justice took the microphone in order to respond to these allegations. He said that he had tried to help Mr Preston with the case involving his daughter and as part of that he gave the documents to two lawyers in turn to look over and see was there any legal avenue that Mr.Preston could go down to get justice. One of these lawyers is a legal adviser to the Labour party. While the second lawyer had the documents Mr.Preston had told him that he wasn't interested in pursuing it with that lawyer and that he just wanted his documents back. At that he got the documents back from this lawyer and gave them to Mr.Preston in, as far as he is concerned, as complete a manner as he received them. Joe had spoken earlier in praise of the meeting and had also added the information that there is some hold up in the appointment of the three man gardai ombudsman commission because apparently there is a problem with one of them not related to any scandal or anything. (Presumably one of the candidates doesn't want the job?).
Thomas McManus a native of Co.Leitrim:
He launched into what seemed like a very involved philosophical discourse which threatened to stretch into a detailed critique of the celtic race...At which point some in the crowd began to debate the merits of listening to all this as the clock ticked on relentlessly and ruinously for those other victims who were trying to get in. I regret to say that it may have even been felt in some quarters that this particular clock conundrum was not unrelated to the reason why he was speaking. So the upshot was that McBrearty was bawling 'time' and much of the rest of the crowd were demanding the microphone while Thomas manfully soldiered on.... getting as far as the Vikings ....before eventually some not overly patient Dub laid a hand on his jacket ...the mic was recovered and the meeting rumbled on.
Her son was murdered by a police informant who had 20 plus warrants out for his arrest but still met with his garda handler on the day of the murder without being arrested. The informant in fact advised that garda on that date that there was going to be a killing but no effort was made to stop it. This happened to her son as he coming back from his fathers funeral. She has not got one positive answer back from any of the political parties.
Jim Cairns from Antrim later of Kilkenny:
He spoke after Jim Gunney and pointed out that he might have information that would assist him in his case. Jim has written and campaigned on the question of gardai (and politicians) being involved in the missing persons cases in the Midlands and he must have been very interested in what Mr Gunney was saying. He stated simply that there is a group in Ireland abducting people and that the guards are covering this up.
( http://www.missingpersons-ireland.freepress-freespeech.com/newbook.htm )
Jim Gunney (spelt as pronounced):
Late in the meeting the audience was transfixed by the following story. Jim, and his neighbours, made a citizens arrest of a man that was attempting to abduct his daughter. While they held him before his transfer to Ashbourne (Co. Meath ) garda station this man told them that he was a very powerful person and that they didn't realise the full implications of what they were trying to do. It also transpired that he knew all about Jim and the fact that he had custody of his daughter after a family case. When they got to the garda station they found out that this man was in fact 'a senior garda' who was in some sense in charge of some of the investigations into the missing person cases in the midlands. He described then that after this incident all hell broke loose in terms of his relationship to the gardai. Both he and his neighbour have been subjected to assaults (including a broken leg) and threats etc from the gardai. This culminated in an incident where he received a phonecall from this neighbour who is also being harassed, asking him to meet him because the caller said that he had located the accomplices of the 'senior garda' in the abduction attempt. He was on his way out to the meeting when it dawned on him that his caller had looked for directions that his neighbour would have known already. But the caller ID on his phone had shown it originated from this neighbour. Nonetheless he decided to ring the father of this person and it then transpired that this neighbour had been arrested and the chip from his phone had been taken which accounts for the correct caller ID on the hoax call he had received. He believes this was an attempt to kill him.
As you can appreciate there was considerable shock felt at the meeting as the audience absorbed this and the other cases.